Lee Johnson sealed his first League One win as Sunderland manager with a 4-0 thrashing of promotion rivals Lincoln.
Grant Leadbitter’s fourth goal of the season put the lads in front and goals from Charlie Wyke and Diamond gave Sunderland a superb lead going into the break. Wyke added a second with less than 20 minutes to play and sealed a first League One win in over a month.
There was no doubt this was Lee Johnson’s biggest test yet, against a side second in the table and eight points above his new team.
Sticking to a 4-3-3 system, Johnson made three changes to the side that beat Oldham midweek - Lee Burge, Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke replaced Anthony Patterson, Chris Maguire and Will Grigg.
Through the opening five minutes, Sunderland were on top, Callum McFadzean played in McGeady who chipped in an inviting ball, but no one could get on the end of it.
Sunderland should have been behind eight minutes in, Jack Diamond lost possession and Lincoln broke quickly - Brennan Johnson found himself with only Burge to beat but dragged his effort wide.
Five minutes later lightning struck twice, on the counter, Johnson found himself in on goal and tried to round Burge but the keeper managed to get a hand on it to put off the Lincoln attacker who could only hit the side netting.
15 minutes on the clock, Diamond weaved his way past a few Lincoln defenders only to be brought down by Jorge Grant and get a penalty for the lads - Sunderland have been desperately missing some pace and energy on the wing and Diamond brilliantly provided exactly that. Leadbitter stepped up and calmly slotted it home sending Alex Palmer.
From a free-kick 20 yards out, McGeady was inches away from giving the lads a two-goal advantage, but his whipped strike brushed the side netting.
Sunderland’s right-hand side was proving causing all sorts of problems for Lincoln, and they made the pressure count as McLaughlin’s ball in to McFadzean was headed across to Wyke who prodded home his sixth goal of the season.
It was a very open game with both sides having good spells of pressure. Lincoln were pushing hard to get back into the game but were leaving gaps in their defence.
On the counter, Aiden McGeady broke quickly and weighted a through ball perfectly for Diamond who picked out the top left corner with an incredibly composed finish. Diamond has proven to be a revelation on the right-hand side and deservedly got his first-ever goal for his boyhood side.
Sunderland should have made it four minutes later, Scowen was in on goal and got around Palmer, but the angle was too tight and hit the side netting.
Going into the half time break, Johnson must have been delighted his teams attacking intent and were deservedly three goals to the good.
Despite a sensational first half from Diamond he was brought off at the break, he was on a yellow card and had one or two fouls on top of that – Maguire replaced the youngster.
Sunderland started the second period a little passive, looking to set up a good foundation to keep the lead and hit the hosts on the break.
The first chance of the half came to Sunderland as McGeady lashed an effort goalwards from range that needed saving by Palmer.
With an hour on the clock, Sunderland were in complete control of possession and looking to push up the field and not allow Lincoln to gain any momentum.
With less than 20 minutes on the clock, Sunderland put the result beyond all doubt as Tom Flanagan played an outstanding ball wide to Maguire who got past his man to pull it back to Wyke to score his second of the day.
All of Lincoln’s energy had sapped away and Sunderland’s game management had been superb, the like of Leadbitter and Power were running the show from midfield.
The final whistle blew, and the lads will have been absolutely delighted with their afternoons work – an outstanding team performance.
Full Time: Lincoln 0-4 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Jack Diamond
Sunderland: Burge; McLaughlin (Sanderson 77’), Wright, Flanagan, McFadzean; Power, Leadbitter, Scowen (Dobson 68’); Diamond (Maguire 46’), Wyke (Grigg 82’), McGeady (Embleton 77’)
Subs not used: Matthews & Graham